My mind has not yet touched the reality that he is leaving. I can barely remember life without him in it. He’s slyly inserted himself into all my memories, as if he’d been there all along. He’s there in Afghanistan, sitting on the next cot, commenting on the other men, bothering me when I’m trying to stitch someone up. He’s at Bart’s, interrupting my study time to drag me over to the morgue, stealing my textbooks and marking them up in red pen when he finds errors. He’s at school with me, at home, in the park I played in as a child.
I stand in our living room and watch him go back to his files. At some point over the past two years he and I have become a hybrid. Sherlock-and-John. The graft has been so complete that even when we’re separated, for days or weeks as has occasionally occurred, I still feel the invisible seam that joins me to him. For a moment, I’m angry. Because he won’t be the one who’ll have to cut away half of himself and go back to being a singular entity. John-and-[redacted]. The seam will remain, though. I will bear the scar down my center to remind me of what I’ve lost.
We introduce each other as flatmates. What we really mean is that we’re friends. People sometimes assume that we’re lovers. None are accurate descriptions. I’m not sure the English language has a word for what we are. Harry once called us “hetero life partners.” Sherlock liked that. It made him laugh. I don’t know if that covers it, either. We’re just – well, we’re just us.
All I know is that there is a deep pit in my chest and it’s yawning wide and hollow and in a minute it’s going to swallow me and I can’t let him see that. “I need to go out for awhile,” I say. My guilt at leaving him alone given the news he’s just been given is mitigated by the knowledge that he’d rather be alone than have to deal with me expressing any emotion.
He just gives me a terse nod. “See you later.”
I turn and clatter down the stairs. My stomach is cramping. I have to hold onto the wall for a moment. I make it outside and hail a cab.
I keep it together until I get to Sarah’s. Yet another relationship in my life that defies categorization. Girlfriend? No. Friend? Yes, but more. Shag buddy? On occasion. These terms might apply, except she’s been more privy to what I go through with Sherlock than anyone. She knows about the seam. It’s made us unable to have what we started out hoping for, but yet unable to retreat into a safe zone of friendship. So we hover here in the land of undefined. She dates other people. I just have Sherlock.